Summer is a great time for the typical things -- grilling, baseball, beach going -- but it's just as good a time to escape the heat and take in a special exhibit that's passing through for a limited time. We've rounded up some promotions and packages that partner hotel stays with museum admissions at a few major cities in the United States for your consideration, from pirates to Frida Kahlo.
In Boston, there is an exhibit at the Museum of Fine Arts (tel. 617/267-9300; www.mfa.org) running through July 27 of the contemporary work of Antonio Lopez Garcia, a realist painter, contains about sixty of his paintings, drawings and sculptures. It's presented as a complementary exhibit to the larger exhibit, "El Greco to Velazquez: Art During the Rain of Philip III," an exhibit that champions the expressive and emotive art of this time period. Lopez Garcia brought some elements of naturalism to Spanish art.
The Museum of Fine Arts lists a handful of special hotel promotions in conjunction with the exhibit, including one the Boston Park Plaza Hotel & Towers (tel. 800/225-2008; www.bostonparkplaza.com) is offering. Rates start at $249 plus tax and include one night of accommodations and two passes to the exhibit. Make sure you mention the rate code "Greco." The hotel features a restaurant by Todd English called Bonfire Steakhouse and is located in Boston's Back Bay neighborhood -- nearby Newbury Street, the Public Gardens, and Boston Common. The Lenox Hotel (tel. 800/225-7062; www.lenoxhotel.com), a four-diamond property near Newbury Street, the museum and the Convention Center, is available from $259 per night. That package includes double occupancy overnight accommodations; two passes to "El Greco" along with breakfast for two in Azure, the onsite restaurant.
The Art Institute of Chicago (tel. 312/443-3600; www.artic.edu) is one of the city's crown jewels. There are nine hotels that offer museum-related packages that include two general admission passes to the Art Institute along with special prices and other incentives. The recently renovated Essex Inn, on the South Loop, is available starting from $135 per night, including valet parking and access and use of rooftop pool and fitness center. Ask for the Masterpiece Mania package. Or choose from the Silversmith Hotel and Suites, located two blocks from the Art Institute.
Its Art of the City package is available from $279 and includes luxurious accommodations for two, breakfast at Ada's restaurant, complimentary use of the fitness room and 24-hour valet parking. Those who like classic American iconography might be interested in "Ed Ruscha and Photography" whose photographs contain subjects such as roadside gasoline stations and parking lots from the early 1960s. The exhibit is up through June 1. Design enthusiasts might enjoy the Institute's first exhibit devoted to the graphic design. It focuses on the work of a British firm Graphic Thought Facility, and is up through August 17.
Elsewhere, the James Hotel (tel. 877/JAMES-55; www.jameshotel.com) has an offer called Inspire, which is valid for admission for two at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago (tel. 312/280-2660; www.mcachicago.org), ten percent discounts at the museum store and its Puck's Café, two tickets to a museum performance, car service to the museum and back to the hotel, and a private exhibition tour, based on availability. The package starts from $269 and is available through December 31.Starting May 31 the museum will host a Jeff Koons exhibit, which includes a survey of his most iconic works and will run through September 21.
On May 31, Philadelphia's Franklin Institute Science Museum (tel. 877/TFI-TIX; www2.fi.edu) will launch an exhibit in conjunction with National Geographic called "Real Pirates: the Untold Story of the Whydah from Slave Ship to Pirate Ship." The Wydah is a pirate ship that was found off the coast of Cape Cod in 1984 and the exhibit, which runs through November 2, contains the findings of that exploration: jewelry, weaponry, pistols, knives, in addition to a replica of the ship itself. Ten hotels are offering packages and VIP passes to the exhibit, including the Four Seasons, Philadelphia Marriot Downtown, the Rittenhouse Hotel, Embassy Suites Center City, and the Crown Plaza Center City. The Loews Philadelphia (tel. 800/235-6397; www.loewshotels.com), an Art Deco landmark, has a package that starts at $199 per night and includes two VIP untimed, undated tickets to the exhibit. The offer is valid May 31 through Novemer 2.
New York's Museum of Modern Art (tel. 212/708-9400; www.moma.org) has a number of intriguing options this summer, from Dada at Moma (May 21-July 28) and "Focus: Picasso Sculpture" (June 13-September 15) along with "Dali: Painting and Film" (June 29-September 15). An exhibition of work by Scandinavian artist Olafur Eliasson is on display through June 30, along with a special public art project; more on that in a minute. And of course, other than the special exhibits there's the wonderful work in its permanent collection.
The MoMA has some hotel partners, including the boutique Buckingham Hotel (tel. 888/511-1900; www.buckinghamhotel.com), just minutes from the museum. The package includes overnight accommodations in spacious deluxe suite, two VIP tickets to the museum, but you must stay a minimum of two nights. Rates start at $379, but the package is valid all summer. The Shoreham Hotel (tel. 800/553-3347; www.shorehamhotel.com), located a couple of blocks from the museum, has a MoMA package that starts at $339 per night and is valid through December 31. It includes luxury accommodations for two, champagne toast upon arrival, two tickets to both the MoMA and the Central Park Zoo, continental breakfast for two, and complimentary late checkout.
In recent years New York City has been home to the Gates, a public art project conceived by Christo and Jean-Claude in Central Park. Starting in July and running through October, from 7am through 10pm, the city's waterfront will be home to an art installation conceived by Olafur Eliasson called the New York City Waterfalls (www.nycwaterfalls.com). Four man-made waterfalls will be inserted at sites within the harbor including Pier 35 in Lower Manhattan, the Brooklyn Bridge (on the Brooklyn Anchorage), the north shore of Governors Island and between Piers 4 & 5 in Brooklyn. The waterfalls will be lit after sunset and will measure somewhere between 90-120 feet. If you're worried about waste, rest assured that planning has ensured it is an environmentally sustainable, carbon-neutral project.
New York's Ritz Carlton in Battery Park (tel. 212/241-3333; www.ritzcarlton.com) will afford visitors waterfall views. Rates start at $630 for stays July 15 through October 15 and include luxury harbor view accommodations with in-room telescopes, two tickets to an hour-long cruise to visit the waterfalls with tour provider Circle Line Downtown, and a complimentary shuttle bus that picks you up at the hotel and drops you off at the South Street Seaport. Tours depart from there from Pier 16. You also receive breakfast for two at the onsite restaurant or in your room.
San Francisco will house the Frida Kahlo exhibit that just left Philadelphia, starting June 14 and running through September 28 at the San Francisco Museum of Art (tel. 415/357-4000; www.sfmoma.org) The museum is offering advance purchase, timed-entry tickets for specific dates. The exhibit features about 50 paintings, still lifes and self-portraits, and photographs as well.
The San Francisco Convention and Visitors Bureau (tel. 415/391-2000; www.onlyinsanfrancisco.com) has partnered with the Starwood Group of Hotels, including the W San Francisco, to promote art and cultural events. The package at the W is called SHOW (tel. 877/822-0000; specialoffers.starwoodhotels.com) and it includes two one-day Go San Francisco Cards, a pass which grants access to 12 museums, including SFMOMA, de Young Museum, and the Cartoon Art Museum. The rates start at $320 and also include breakfast for two; you must book the room and stay by September 1; there are no minimum stays required.
It is possible to use the Go Card to see the Frida Kahlo exhibit, but there will be a $5 charge. To check out the other special offers (at the Sheraton Fisherman's Wharf, the St. Regis, etc.) in conjunction with art this summer, go to Starwood's website.
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